Sunday, July 24, 2011

Miles of Motivation

Numbers associated with my bicycling sometimes frustrate me - like when I realize that my average pace still hasn't gone up as much as I'd like or when I realize that the numbers related to my weight haven't gone down even though I'm biking a ton. But when I get close to reaching a mileage milestone, numbers don't frustrate me - they motivate me instead!

I really like seeing my bike computer's odometer turn over to big numbers. When I first got my road bike last April, it was a big deal to see 100 on my odometer's screen. Later that year when the odometer turned over to 500 and I realized I had biked 500 miles on my road bike it was another big deal. Whenever my computer turns over to a number with zeros after it I let out a whoop, smile and ride on - and start logging miles towards my next hundred mile milestone.

Today I woke up with the goal of kicking that road bike's odometer over the 1,000 mile mark. I knew I was close -  within 40 miles of reaching the goal - so Owen and I loaded the bikes and headed for the Cannon Valley Trail with plans to ride from Cannon to Red Wing and back - a total of 40 miles - and reach my mileage goal.

We got to the trail and got ready to ride. I turned on my bike computer and discovered I only had to pedal 22 miles to reach 1,000! So I did. And when my computer clicked over from 999.9 to 1,000 I let out a whoop and I smiled. I stopped to take a picture of my odometer reading for proof - and then I pedaled back to Cannon Falls and started logging miles towards my new mileage goal of 1,100 total miles.
1,000 miles!

Then the next goal will be 1,200.
Then 1,300...and 1,400... keeps going on and on and on.

I just realized this mileage goal thing pretty much never ends as long as I keep riding my bike. But instead of frustrating me, the fact that every hundred miles I can reach a new milage goal motivates me to keep on riding. 

That's miles and miles of motivation.
I like that.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Change in Plans

My kids, Rose and Ryan, started a theater day camp today called Young People's Theater Workshop (YPTW). YPTW is a program put on through the Northfield Arts Guild during which the kids, grouped by age, write a play, rehearse it, and then perform it at the end of the three week session.

Rose loves the camp and this is her fourth year. In her first year I saw a huge change in her confidence from the beginning of the session to the end. She has grown each year since and I expect she will benefit from the camp again this year.

Ryan has never been in YPTW and has been somewhat reluctant to go. But, to save on gas (it's a 30 mile round trip to town), make our schedule easier and give me time to work, Owen and I decided that Ryan should give YPTW a try. Given how good the program has been for Rose, we're hoping Ryan will benefit from the program as well.

I dropped the kids off this morning and right off the bat Ryan found two friends from his class at Greenvale. He found other friends, too, and at the end of the day said he had fun. Rose, no surprise, had a great time to and is excited to be in a group with one of her best friends.

Big sigh of relief for me. Ryan is my tricky kid on things like this. He really would rather stay home all day with me. And, though I'd love to have him home every day with me during the summer, I do need some time to work and don't want to make two round trips to town to drop off Rose, go home to hang out with Ryan and drive back to pick her up. We've tried that before. And we've tried hanging out in town while Rose was at camp. Either way it just gets to be too much.

I've been looking forward to this first day of camp because I planned to kick it off with a whole lot of bike riding. Today I planned to haul my bike to town in my van, park my van at camp and then ride my bike to the coffee shop to work and to do errands. The rest of the week I planned to haul my road bike to town and spend much of the day putting some serious miles on my bike in and around Northfield. Like a lot of miles - a couple hundred by the end of the week.

My favorite place to ride - the lovely, shaded Cannon Valley Trail

Guess what? I've changed my plans. Why? The weather here in Minnesota is dangerously hot. We had temperatures of 98 by late afternoon today, which may not sound hot to my friends in the south but factor in the dew point in the 80s and you get a heat index of something like 112. We had the same sort of dew point yesterday and I read on news station KSTP's website that "...the only other spot in the Western Hemisphere with a dew point in the 80's Sunday was the Amazon Jungle in South America." (a quote from Meteorologist Ken Barlow)

Gee, I thought I lived in MinneSNOWta :) Guess not.

It's hot here. Sticky. Yucky. Walk outside and come in all dripping wet hot outside. And, suffice it to say, I did not ride my bike around town today. It is not likely I will ride my road bike tomorrow. Or Wednesday. Maybe I'll be riding again on Thursday when the temperatures are supposed to drop to around 85. Or maybe not. We'll see.

So I'm changing plans. Instead of week of intensive bike riding I'm opting for a week of intensive writing. I know I'll get some cooler bicycling weather here in Minnesota soon. In fact, given the right clothing (and maybe a fat bike like the Salsa Mukluk) I can ride all winter long!

But until cooler temperatures hit, I have a whole lot of writing to do.

Riding in the snow - in April!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Win Win Situation

My writing career has opened up so many opportunities for me. Through writing I’ve learned new things - like how to make metal garden sculptures with artist Jennifer Wolcott and and how to cover an airplane with an eco-friendly aircraft finishing process. My writing has given me a chance to write and record family stories, to be creative, to capture a moment or the essence of a lifetime and tell a story the best I can. Perhaps best of all, I've met so many cool people who, through the things they do and say, remind me that there's a lot of good stuff going on in our world. 

My writing career has also opened up more career opportunities for me.  Less than a year ago, I was offered the opportunity to write for a newly launched, community news and information website, Northfield Patch. Though I already had plenty of work, I was excited enough about Northfield Patch that I told editor, Corey Butler, Jr., that I would write for Patch anyway. I’m glad I did! 
My Patch stories have focused on cool things kids are doing in our schools and also on the arts. And, no surprise, through writing for Patch I’ve learned so many new things - like how grade-school children can make a difference by forming an environmental club, about how 6th graders learn about history through doing History Day projects, about a 3rd grade class who folded 1,000 origami cranes and made a wish for the world. Each story unfolds something new to tell and has opened up so many new connections for me with the wonderful people in our community.
It’s a win win situation, I’d say.
Indeed. Because now my connection with Patch is affording me yet another opportunity - I get to share my blog, Idyllwild, with the Northfield Patch community. From time to time I may write a Patch specific post, but most of the time the Patch blog will be my regular posts with a few tweaks for the different audience. I'll get to share my love of bicycling, flying and my family with a new audience, maybe turn on a few people to fun things like 30 Days of Biking or encourage them to do other fun things with their families.

I'm excited for the new opportunity!
It's another win win situation, I'd say.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Short Wing Family

We had a great time at the Short Wing Piper Club convention, the annual gathering of people who own, fly and simply admire "short wing" Piper airplanes. This year's convention was held in Spearfish, South Dakota. About 170 people attended and 42 Short Wings airplanes.

The convention is full of social activities, some meetings and presentations and a lot of hanging out and looking at airplanes. It's the ninth convention our family has attended, last year we flew to Middletown, Ohio and other years have brought us to Vancouver, WA and as far northeast as Kingston, Ontario, Canada. We figure that since 2003 we've flown over 8,300 miles in our little Pacer just attending conventions. That's about 80 some hours in a little airplane.

This year I, Owen and the kids did a presentation titled "Short Wing Family" at the convention. The secondary title, by the way, was "How to fly all over the country with your family and still like each other when you get back home." We've never done a presentation as a family so it was a bit nerve wracking to prepare for it and run through things before we went live - but it turned out well.

Some people who couldn't attend requested that I post our slideshow so I'm including it in my blog entry today. Find the link to "Short Wing Family" at the end of this blog entry and click to open it. Now, keep in mind that looking at 60 slides is not as much fun as experiencing the family-led presentation and hearing stories like how Ryan used to think our airplane was voice activated or how important it is to make sure everyone goes to the bathroom before you set off on a long journey. But it's the best I can do.

Here's a bit of set up of what we did for our presentation...The kids handed out little treat bags to everyone who attended - each zip-lock baggie had inside two pipe cleaners, a Dove Promise candy and a sucker. During the presentation, I explained why each of these things, including the zip-lock baggie, are important when flying with kids. We gave out chocolate to anyone who asked questions (something borrowed from fabulous author Lorna Landvik who gives out candy at her book readings) and put forth a pipe cleaner art challenge to the members of the audience. The winner (someone made a cool airplane with two pipe cleaners) got a prize.

By the way, since you weren't at the presentation you may still be wondering what the pipe cleaners are all about - I read a suggestion in a parenting magazine years ago that pipe cleaners are a great thing to give kids on road trips. The idea is that they, instead of saying they are bored, will make things out of them. I decided to equip the kids with pipe cleaners on our flights and though they don't totally eliminate boredom they do help.
Here's Rose in our Pacer with some flowers she made from pipe cleaners

As for the suckers? They are a little something to help keep the kids quiet. The chocolate? Something I need to survive every trip. As for the zip-lock baggie? We recommend you travel with gallon-size zip-lock baggies. They are great for trash and putting stuff in...and are a perfect barf bag (we've only had to use one enroute once but won't fly without them).

Blue Skies!

Short Wing Family (Adobe PDF file)